Photo caption: Top row (from left): Instructor Gerald Brown, Zamya Davis, Brayona Scurry, Kevion Scurry, Instructor Jenelle Leonard. Bottom row (from left): Dereon West, Destiny Miller, Antonio Hamilton.

Photo courtesy of Perry Klein.

More than 40 people, all family members and friends of six young students, gathered at the James Creek Resident Council on a recent cold Saturday afternoon. Welcomed by Youth Activities Task Force (YATF) Chairperson Thelma D. Jones and the center’s coordinator Christine Spencer, the students were there to celebrate their graduation from the Southwest Neighborhood Assembly (SWNA) YATF’s Computer-for-Kids computer training program.

YATF’s signature program, now in its ninth year, has trained well over 100 children ages 5-13 from the community in its continuing effort to bridge the digital divide. Each student attended classes on Tuesday nights for eight weeks where they learned fundamental computer skills like keyboarding as well as a more demanding task such as putting together a self-styled Microsoft PowerPoint presentation complete with images from a wide range of websites.

This session’s graduating class included Brayona and Kevion Scurry, Destiny Miller, Antonio Hamilton, Dereon West, and Zamya Davis. Davis was awarded cash prizes for perfect attendance and shared a prize with Hamilton for having the most family and friends attending the ceremony. Co-teaching with Jenelle Leonard, the experience continues to be both fulfilling and rewarding for both of us.

The graduates and well-wishers enjoyed a festive reception complete with a buffet of healthy refreshments and homemade treats brought in by volunteers. The volunteer-driven program, started by Jones in 2007, draws talented volunteers from the community and beyond. This year’s graduation speaker, T. Quantay Oliver, housing manager at James Creek, both encouraged and urged the graduates to continue to strive and do their best. He also gave them great graduation gifts to show a tangible sign of their achievement. In addition, the graduates received refurbished computers to take home, provided by Perry Klein of SWNA’s Technology Task Force, at the end of the graduation ceremony.

The program promises to be continued into its 10th year with a new session beginning Tuesday, Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at James Creek Computer Room, 100 N St. SW. And as always, Jones and the other volunteers are looking forward to greater levels of community involvement and more enriching experiences for many more children. To register for the training, please email or call (202) 251-1639.

By: Gerald Brown

Gerald Brown is a veteran computer specialist at the World Bank Group. He has volunteered with the program since its inception.

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